Develop and Destroy

Jul 4, 2015, 2:54 AM |

It is after a long hiatus that I am writing this blog post. The preceding months of summer vacations had brought a halt to the classes. It was not until the last week of June that I was able to take a class. In the meantime, I had heard from the sport’s co-ordinator at the school who praised the children’s rising interest in chess and their devotion to it during their free time. 

On the day of the class, after having battled Mumbai’s rains and traffic snarls, I finally arrived at the school, a bit late, but raring to go. The students had been anticipating my arrival and were all set with their chess boards. As I went about getting set up for the lesson, a student walked up to me and told me about his summers spent practising. Extremely pleased to hear it, I let him know that he should keep up the effort. 

Before beginning my lesson, I asked the entire class if they had stayed in touch with chess during this long break. They all replied that they had been playing chess games whenever they had found the time. These games had been so exciting(or so it seemed) that they couldn’t contain themselves and started telling me about their various escapades on the board. So far so good I thought to myself, then I proceeded to ask them if they had written these games down, this is when they all turned silent. Slightly disappointed, I explained to them that writing games correctly  was one of the most important tasks while playing. Having acknowledged their mistake, they promised to write their games down whenever they played next.

During the last lesson, I had made them play games on the Max Lange attack. However, by now they had forgotten the ideas of the opening. This would have been the third lecture in a row when I would have to reiterate the ideas, and this time not all the students were present. I decided on the spot that I will not be teaching them openings, at least not till they are acquainted with the basics of the other two parts of the game. What I will do instead is emphasise on the key principles of development, centre control, castling and some basic pawn structures as I show them games. For today as well, my intention was to show them a recent blitz game I had played online, I had found this strategy to work as they were able to connect better with these than the games of grandmasters. I just told them that the game I was about to show them had been played on a 10 Minute time control, that’s why they should expect subpar moves/mistakes on my and my opponent’s part. I also told them, that it was their job to stop me and discuss with the class if they thought there was a better move in the position.

This is the game I was talking about.
After every game I show them, I ask them to reflect back on the game and come up with something they particularly enjoyed. This time too the same drill took place and a majority of the students answered how the development and lack of development had spelled doom. These answers made me feel that I had achieved my objective for that class, even though I will have to constantly come back to it.

Hopefully, next week, I will be able to conduct more sessions with the kids. Till then, adieu.

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